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Do You Learn from TV?

April 18, 2012 3 comments

To again break from the norm of posting news stories, I’d like to do a little bit of reflection. My research project talks a lot about television. For the bulk of our project, we are analyzing the two TV shows “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”  But it is not just this project that allows me to interact with TV. In my first essay about the nature of science, I also discuss a lot of ways in which I associate science with the recognition of facts learned in low key ways from the media. For example, I received extra credit on a science test once from something I learned in Legally Blonde. Also, I know the names of a whole lot of bones due to the song Miley and Lily make up in “Hannah Montana”. So, what does all this mean? Could it be that television actually retains some educational value? It sort of seems that way, because there actually is a lot I have learned from watching TV and movies.

Yes, there are plenty of shows out there that have an educational purpose. And yes, I’m sure that there is plenty to learn from these shows, and I’m sure that there are many successful ways that these shows employ to communicate scientific information to whatever audience the show is aimed at. This is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about normal TV and regular movies which actually bring up things coincidentally which in turn teach us about science/really anything. There is honestly just so much I have learned over the years that I remember from TV and movies, and I can’t really pin why. Possibly it’s because I’m a visual learner. I think a huge component must be though that it is much more exciting to learn things from unexpected sources, such as one’s favorite movie.

What do you think? What have you learned from your favorite soap opera? Have you learned anything at all?

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Sun!

April 10, 2012 8 comments

Throughout the year it has never been an easy or fun task to stow myself away in the library and do work. But I can’t help feeling that with the onset of the gorgeous weather it is just getting harder and harder. Not only do I have less self discipline to pack up my books and head to Gelman, I also get the urge to skip class and instead just enjoy the beautiful day. After talking to my friends, it appears I’m not the only one who feels this way. Doing work or being in class means being inside and not in the sun. And not being in the sun when it’s so beautiful out just seems like a crime.

 

This may not apply for everyone, but for me, there is no worse feeling than sitting inside watching TV when you can see outside how nice it is. Over the summer, I broke my ankle and was sentenced to a lot of couch potato time. But instead of enjoying my free time to explore facebook and every single channel Comcast offers, I would sit inside upset that I was not out and about.

 

Now, more than ever, I want to spend my time outside. Whether eating outside, laying out, taking a walk, playing tennis, or reading outside. Just being outside makes me so much happier than I was the entire winter. It is crazy how the sun has such power over emotion. I don’t know much about it, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized by episodes of depression that occur during certain periods (seasons) of the year, and it mostly occurs during the winter.

 

So, how do you feel now that the sun is out? Are you happier? Is it affecting your work ethic? What’s more important- getting your work done, or spending time outside, and being happy?

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The First Trip To the Moon: a Hoax?

March 29, 2012 3 comments

Inspired by the previous entry about the existence of aliens, I remembered a very interesting story. After my junior year of high school I went to Barcelona to study for a month over the summer. While I was there, I learned a wide range of information, mostly about the Spanish language. One day, however, while I was in the computer lab class, the teacher presented us with an activity about how America’s first mood landing was all a lie.

Having grown up in America, I was never faced with such questioning of American beliefs. Yet here, the teacher was telling us, and suggesting it’s validity, that the first mood landing was completely faked and that America never really landed on the moon. We simply filmed a video in a studio and photoshopped some pictures as a way to one up the Russians in the Cold War. As one of very few Americans, I was immediately taken aback and expected others to be as well. But the two other American’s and I were the only ones in shock. Evidently, all the other countries had presented their students with these opposing viewpoints. Either that or people just did not care.

Anyways, I found this to be incredibly interesting. The argument had plenty of valid points, and what seemed like a large amount of evidence. After simply typing this into google, I found a website devoted to this topic (with a United Kingdom domain name I’d like to add…again, American’s are not the ones doubting the moon landing). This website is 100% convinced that the first moon landing was all a hoax, and they provide many different approaches to explain this further. Check it out here:

http://www.ufos-aliens.co.uk/cosmicapollo.html

What do you think? Are you convinced? Are all these people just a bunch of crazies?

 

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Allergies

March 12, 2012 3 comments

I’m sitting here with a runny nose, and sneezing so much I can’t focus. Why? Allergies. My allergies are truly getting the best of me. Usually, I have seasonal allergies, which mean that when the weather gets warm I sneeze a little more often then the usual person. So why am I having such a bad allergy attack in the wintertime? I can thank good old global warming for that one.

In case you haven’t noticed, we sort of skipped winter this year. The climate is all out of whack. All of the normal allergens present during the springtime not only remained present during the winter, but also grew. This article that I read stated, “Without a deep frost like in winters’ past, experts say allergens are sticking around and growing in numbers.”

All of this, combined with the normal allergens that the winter brings on, such as dust mites produced from heating systems, makes this winter very bad for people with allergies.

How are your allergies? Have you noticed an increase of symptoms?

 

In case you are interested in reading the article, here it is:

 

http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/02/warm-winter-weather-causing-increase-in-allergies-72127.html

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Study Drugs

February 26, 2012 7 comments

It’s midterm time, and I hear left and right people on the hunt for Adderall. Adderall, along with many other types of stimulants such as Vyvanse, Focalin, Concerta, and Ritalin, are drugs that use many different methods to stimulate the brain in order to increase concentration. These drugs are thought of often as very overprescribed, as well as addictive and dangerous. This is mainly because there are so many harmful side effects to these drugs. ADD and ADHD medicine is very controversial topic because there are many different viewpoints on the definition of the disorder.

To begin, the margins at which this disorder is classified are changing. The DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a book published by the American Psychiatric Association which classifies all mental disorders, is in the process of updating the definition of these disorders because the diagnosis is becoming too widespread. In the future, it is speculated the symptoms of ADD and ADHD will have to be increasingly more and more severe in order to be diagnosed with these disorders and consequently prescribed stimulant drugs as a treatment plan. Most doctors are on board with this move, however some still believe that their patients who have lesser symptoms have the disorder and have the right to the drugs. The diagnosis of ADD and ADHD is subjective, which makes it difficult to classify the disorder exactly and not over diagnose.

A different issue is the actual action of prescribing these drugs. Because these drugs have not been around a very long time, although there has been short term testing (the process of drug testing is a very serious and long process, so they really have passed through many levels of short term testing) there has still not been a conclusive study on the long-term effects of ADD/ADHD stimulant drugs. Will the drug end up decreasing lifespan? Will they cause memory problems? Will they increase chances of disease x or disease y? The point is that until the drug has been around long enough to see, doctors will not know.

These drugs are immensely helpful to many children, teens and even adults. They have been prescribed to many people who show large success rates. But the side effects are rough and can often outweigh the benefits. Most teenagers and adults on these drugs consistently must also take anti-depressants to counter the side effects. Just about everything related to ADD is controversial, and I find it especially relevant to us right about now because students decide to take these drugs to study better for exams. What are your thoughts on ADD medicine? Do you or your friends take it? Do you or your friends have prescriptions? Do you think these drugs are good or bad? Do the benefits outweigh the side effects?

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The Plague

February 6, 2012 6 comments

When was the last time that you stopped by GWU Student Health Services?  I know that personally, I’ve been 5 times first semester, and I just set up another appointment for tomorrow. Why, you might be questioning, do I frequent SHS? No, it is certainly not because I enjoy the scent of Purell and latex gloves.

Ever since arriving at school, I have been struggling with a bad recurring cold. The process goes something like this: get a cold, wait a week, still sick, go to SHS, take a strep test (the doctors always “sure” I don’t have strep again), get a call three days later, strep test positive, go on antibiotics, and repeat (substitute the occasional sinus infection).

Now, you might be thinking that I am some gross, unhygienic person who must never shower or take care of themselves. However, I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, shower nearly every morning, and wash my hands all the time. So what is possibly getting me so sick?

If you go to GW (as I assume everyone who is reading this does), you may have overheard someone talking about the Thurston “plague”. You may be skeptical of the existence of said plague. But I think I am living proof that such a plague does indeed exist. What else could explain my committed relationship with SHS? Tomorrow will be our 6th date, and I’m really ready to dump them. What could possibly be living inside Thurston that is getting us all so sick?

Is it the black mold that grows on the ceilings of bathrooms, or the layers upon layers of dust that accumulate anywhere and everywhere? Is it that 1100 kids live in the same building, nearly on top of one another?

Unfortunately, I have no conclusive answer, and I sadly don’t think I’ll ever get one. All I can say is that if you’ve had the plague, I sympathize with you; I know how it feels.  And is you haven’t gotten sick yet: please, enlighten the rest of us with your tricks of the trade.

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